April 13, 2024

Review: The Mimicking of Known Successes

The Mimicking of Known Successes The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Ann Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella successfully straddles several genres at once: hard science fiction (the setting is a human settlement of Jupiter, with floating platforms and rails that circumnavigate much of the planet), noir (the plot involves a murder mystery), lgbt (our protagonists are Mossa, the investigator probing the seeming disappearance of an academic with many secrets, and Pleiti, a scholar of pre-collapse Earth and its ecosystems; they were past lovers and find their way to each other again in a sweet, understated romance), and post-apocalyptic (in this timeline, Earth was drained dry of resources and rendered uninhabitable, and Pleiti's Preservation Society guards the remaining genetic material of animals and ecosystems). That is quite a lot to stuff into 166 pages, but the author manages it well.

Mossa and Pleiti also have elements of Holmes and Watson, needless to say, with Mossa's single-mindedness and deductive powers (it's never stated outright, but she seems to be on the autism spectrum to me). Pleiti broke off their relationship several years previously, when they were at university, but they get a second chance in this book. There's also a fascinating future history of humanity that could have taken up many more pages, but the author only reveals as much as she needs to.

The mystery is parceled out and dealt with fairly, but it's the worldbuilding and characters that shine here. The author could easily put a full length novel in this setting. Perhaps that will happen someday, but in the meantime do pick this up. It's a quick read, but it has nice depths.

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